State Obligation To Settle The Displaced During Development Projects
This Blog is written by Ayushee Priya from KIIT School of Law, Odisha. Edited by Lisa Coutinho.
According to UN guiding principles on Internal Displacement, internally displaced persons are persons or groups of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular, as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized State border.
Development projects, political conflicts, setting up protected area networks and conversation areas, and natural disasters are many such factors that give rise to shifting or displacement of people in India. International Displacement Monitoring Centre released data in 2007 that due to development projects in over 50 years, 50 million have been displaced in India. The latest data by Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) revealed that at least 616,140 have been displaced as of April 2015 due to various conflicts in India. At least 3,428,000 are displaced due to disasters, and as of January 2014, about 11,042 political refugees originating from the country. The above-estimated figures are not reliable data. This review highlights issues relating to resettlement and rehabilitation, majorly focusing on the following causes, political/ethnic conflict, and developmental projects.
India, in order to achieve rapid economic growth invested in many industrial projects, dams, roads, mines, power plants, and new cities which led to acquiring land and reallocation of peoples. Displaced people from time to time have been forced to leave the place and move elsewhere due to armed conflicts, discord among the members of a group, and natural calamities. Indigenous people are the majority among the most displaced people, and development induced displacement is the highest. India is among the fast-growing economies in the world, and with increasing pressure due to urbanization, the acquiring of lands has increased by the government of India to match the other developed countries. Indian government under eminent domain have the power to acquire private property for government use under the name of urbanization which results in the displacement of millions of people.
SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACTS OF THIS DEVELOPMENT
Development is a huge part of developing nations, and due to which urbanization is one of the major parts of any developing country like India. 3,300 big dams have been constructed during the last fifty years. Construction of dams for power and irrigation, the building of roads, urbanization, mining, the building of thermal power plants, etc. have been some of the economic development activities since 1947. Around 42 million in the country have been displaced due to large dam construction. Some proponents believe that only constructing large dams can improve India’s economy and the lives of millions of people. One such dam is Bargi dam, which is 33 km from Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh and is to be completed on the Narmada river. The main objective of the dam was to increase irrigation potential to 4.37 lakh hectares and hydropower generation capacity to 105 Mega Watts. But this construction has displaced many people. Due to which they cannot have a proper livelihood.
Hirakud Dam is India’s oldest dam with the primary objective of flood control in Odisha. The other objective of this project was to irrigate 2,67,494 hectares of land and generate 331.5 MV of power. For fulfilling the objectives of this project, the Government of India has uprooted and displaced more than one lakh people. The people who left their land for the development of the country are still struggling for their livelihood. Due to Hirakud dam, industries are flourishing and generating profits, people are facing hardships in their day-to-day life. They have been deprived of their basic rights, which are education, health, food and sanitization. They have to make bidies for sustaining their family. The irrigation which used to be there before the construction of the dam has reduced to more than 30 percent after the construction. The life of the people has become miserable due to the construction of these huge dams.
Mining is also a very important source of investment and profit inducement. The size of the industries is increasing over the years. Mining induced displaced and resettlement (MIDR) has been the major risk of view of social sustainability. This is increasing due to rich mineral deposits in areas that have people who have less politically powerless people. Coal mines have expanded from an average of 150 acres in the 1960s to 800 acres in the 1980s over the last three decades due to shifting from underground to opencast mines for exploiting lower quality coal that resulted in undertaking over some 1500 acres of land as open cast mines require more land and induce displacement of more persons without even creating jobs to absorb people. Industries and mines give jobs to the families they displace, but ever since the mechanization process starts, the scope of absorbing people subtly began shrinking.
For industrial purposes in India, acquiring agricultural land is a thing that has been followed for decades. According to India’s planned development, heavy industrialization is the core. People are displaced for this purpose and they are deprived of their rights in the name of development and urbanization. The poor are the ones who have suffered the most in every aspect. The government, in order to develop economically, dominate these powerless people and guarantee them to provide them everything which is required for their livelihood. But the government fails to acknowledge their sacrifice for the development of the country and put them in the worst situation. Their life becomes miserable and they are deprived of every such right which is guaranteed to them by virtue of being an Indian citizen.
The Special Economic Zone (SEZ) was announced to attract foreign investments in India in April 2000. They expected the reallocation of people near the countryside. There is no calculation on how many people have been displaced due to these programs. So, the construction of dams, mines, industries, and other developmental like SEZ’s projects have displaced millions of people. The poor state of people during displacement and resettlement is due to poor planning by the government and lack of importance to the lives of poor people who sacrificed their homes for the benefit and development of the country.
Indian Bengal Delta – The locality is basically dependent on agriculture, in contrast, that people have less size land, but are also engaged in other occupations such as collecting crabs and riverine fishing, collecting honey from the forest, and are dependent on vegetables which are sold in the markets. The total number of people displaced varies between 4000 and 6000-7000. The displaced population has been resettled in the neighboring Sagar island in five ‘Colonies’, such that, Phuldubi Colony, South Haradhanpur Colony, Bankimnagar Colony, Gangasagar Colony, and Jibantala-Kamalpur Colony.
Mahanadi Delta – On January 13, Jawaharlal Nehru inaugurated the Hirakud dam. It submerged 360 villages and 26,561 families. Many people shifted to fishing. More than 200 dams affected families and their livelihood. They faced a lot of problems with such acts. They struggled a lot for basic amenities. They had to live in the hills which caused them many problems.
Over the years, the rate of development has increased rapidly. Indian Adivasis and other tribal people are behind in terms of development. Development-induced displacement and resettlement (DIDR) is the main cause of this problem. People who are residing in and around the mountains, forests, and rich resources are being forced to move from their place of residing to set dams, mines, military bases, airports, industries. As a result, these people are left with no means of livelihood. These communities are being forced to move to newer environments which they are unable to cope up with. In the name of development, the government, the police, and other administrations inflict violence on these innocent and peaceful people. The livelihood of poor and innocent people cannot be sacrificed for these development programs. By ignoring the poor population, the country cannot be developed. Their livelihood cannot be sacrificed. The people who are displaced from the region are residing in these areas for centuries and have adapted to the environments.; forcing them to move to another place and start their life again is such a miserable thing. These people are deprived of their basic rights. They remain uneducated, thus, making the country even more backward. Children have to work to sustain their family which is even worse in the name development. Displacement and resettlement will leave them begging for food, livelihood, and survival. Taking away agricultural land forces farmers to live a miserable life. The government gives a small amount of compensation to these people and remove them from their land. Due to displacement people are still wandering and migrating to nearby places in search of employment. The displaced people are working in different cities on daily wages for their livelihood. After the massive displacement, the government is still displacing people without thinking about these innocent and powerless people.
In the current neoliberal era, countries are moving towards a new model of development that requires foreign investment. But unfortunately, in many regions of the world, this development has been forced to confront a wide variety of losses. For instance, the developmental projects that convert the land on which people live and work into dams and industrial corridors, because of which peoples are displaced. What is most important is that at present there are no policies or guidelines for relief and rehabilitation that must necessarily accompany development projects. The attempt by the governments to formulate such policies have been weak, which is a matter of concern. In fact, India is not an exception to the above rule because the present government has proposed an amendment to the existing land acquisition act with the intention of diluting the rehabilitation clause and asking the states to dilute the most essential provision such as prior informed consent, social impact assessment, etc. in their state land acquisition acts for easy accessibility of land from these people. Therefore, it is the need of the hour to show the political will to formulate a comprehensive policy at the national level to address the concerns of peoples who have been displaced due to developmental projects.